An apple a day - millions of bacteria in a single apple

An apple a day - millions of bacteria in a single apple

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Decrypted: These bacteria are found in apples

Apples are generally considered to be particularly healthy fruit, which is also reflected in the English saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". But which bacteria do we actually take in with the fruit? Current study results suggest that around 100 million bacterial cells are consumed with an apple, with the bacterial composition showing significant differences in conventionally and organically produced apples.

In a current study, researchers from the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology at Graz University of Technology investigated which bacteria are ingested with organic apples and conventional apples. Both apple varieties therefore house millions of bacteria. Surprisingly, however, a large part of the bacteria was in the pulp and the seeds, not on the skin.

So far, bacteria on apples have hardly been examined

Although apples are one of the most consumed fruits in the world and are a source of direct human exposure to bacterial communities, little has been investigated in this regard, reports the research team led by Professor Gabriele Berg in the journal "Frontiers in Microbiology" current study the apple microbiome, with a special focus on possible differences between organically and conventionally grown fruits. For this purpose, samples of stem, peel, pulp, seeds and calyx were taken,

Flesh and seeds with the highest bacterial density

"Interestingly, the pulp and seeds were bacterial foci while the skin was less populated," the researchers report of their findings. They also found that although there was no difference in the amount of bacteria detected between organic apples and conventionally grown apples, there were differences in the variety of bacteria. "We noticed a sharp reduction in the diversity and uniformity of bacteria in conventionally managed apples," said the research team.

Increased harmful bacteria with conventional cultivation

Despite the similar structure of the microbiome, which was generally dominated by proteobacteria (80 percent), bacteroidetes (9 percent), actinobacteria (5 percent) and firmicutes (3 percent), there were significant shifts of almost 40 percent among the bacterial genera. In particular, bacterial signatures, which are known for their health-damaging potential, had to be increasingly detected in conventionally processed apples, the researchers report.

Organic apples the healthier choice!

Most conventional apple samples contained potentially harmful bacteria of the Shigella genus, which can lead to serious diarrheal diseases. However, these bacteria could not be detected in the samples of the organic apples. Another aspect that clearly speaks for the choice of organic apples in the next purchase decision! (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Aquarius, Birgit; Müller, Henry; Berg, Gabriele: An Apple a Day: Which Bacteria Do We Eat With Organic and Conventional Apples ?; in Frontiers in Biology, July 24, 2019, Frontiers in Biology

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